When I was younger, I always thought that at some point I’d bugger off and live overseas.
And when I say younger, I don’t mean “when I was about 11”. When I was 11, I actually was living overseas, so the thought didn’t really occur to me. It was more the chunk of my life from 18-23, where I just assumed that at some point in my mid-to-late 20s I’d get a bit bored of London and decide that actually, I quite fancied going somewhere else for a bit.
I didn’t give that much thought to where; I just figured I’d probably either go back to Australia, or actually make use of my so-far-entirely-pointless US passport and go live in New York for a bit.
And that was the plan; graduate, do a bit of work, get some stuff on the CV, go a-wandering. It wasn’t a particularly well-considered plan, more just the result of an assumption that going overseas for a bit is what you do. Because it’s what we did when I was a kid; after a few false-starts of maybe going to live in Canada or in Africa, and that whole being born in Houston thing, we buggered off to Melbourne for a few years. Moving about is the norm when you’re spawn of oil company employee. Staying in one place had never really occurred to me.
Then I started going out with my Farthing Wood Friend, a man who is so keen on the concept of “home” that it’s sometimes a bit of a struggle to get him to leave the house, let alone the country. So I waited for the wanderlust to hit, and I said to people that I might try and drag him overseas for a few years before we “settled down”.
And then I entirely forgot about the whole thing, and started obsessively rightmoving instead.
In the past few months, the plan has come sneaking back into my brain a bit. I should’ve expected it, really, what with the whole “I’m approaching 27, which is the age at which I always said I’d go overseas” thing. But I’m not going overseas. I’m buying a house 20 minutes from my hometown instead, even though if you’d asked me when I lived there I would’ve tried to tell you that I didn’t really have a hometown and was a bit of a nomad instead. Which I’m not; one stint living in a different country doesn’t make you a nomad. Bruce Parry wouldn’t come visit the home counties to stay with your really rather stationary tribe.
Yet some of my friends are doing the overseas thing. Quite a few of my friends, actually. And whilst I expected that I’d have a giant pang of jealousy, and sit there looking at the list of fixtures and fittings my solicitor has sent me and seething about the fact that I’ve ended up exactly where I never thought I’d be, I haven’t had any of that at all.
I think it’s great that people are Going Places and Doing Things, but I’m also really glad that I’m not one of those people. Because actually, I just want to sit on a sofa with a cat and watch a whole load of Yes Minister. And then visit the people who’ve gone off on adventure and started a new life. And then go home again.